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Local man develops unique relationship with Ronan

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RONAN — Most days Carl Lind’s cart is full of cans, as he pushes it around downtown Ronan. He stops here and there to talk to locals and to visit businesses, who save their cans for him.

“He doesn’t ever know a stranger,” explains Teena Horshor.

Horshor is the social services director at Mountain View Care Center Inc, where Lind has been a resident since 1971.

Lind suffers from a mental disability, but his medical history is a bit unclear. An only child of an older farming couple who lived in the Valley View area, Lind’s parents passed away in the late 1960s. 

But that hasn’t stopped Lind from adopting loved ones of his own.

“(Mountain View Care Center) and the whole town are his family,” Horshor said. 

Almost every day, with a smiling face and a twinkle in his blue eyes, Lind strolls around downtown. Sometimes he pulls weeds from the sidewalks. After the garbage truck comes, Lind doesn’t think twice about helping a Main Street business by rolling the blue garbage cans closer to the building. 

It’s second nature for him to treat Ronan as his home and its residents as his family. 

Whether he is sipping coffee at the Ronan Café and helping the ladies clean off the tables, or playing his harmonica and guitar with the musicians that come and play for the residents at the care center — Lind makes friends wherever he goes.

A man of habit, his routine rarely changes.

In the mornings he wakes up and has his breakfast and if the weather allows, he goes into town for an early tour clad in a button up shirt, hat, jeans and sometimes pushing his cart.

His rounds usually include, but are not limited to, the Valley Club, the Pheasant and the Second Chance Saloon. 

He returns to the center for every mealtime.

At noon, he eats lunch and takes a nap, but he usually returns for an afternoon tour of town. In the summer days, he reluctantly stays in and out of the heat. 

But Lind loves the outdoors.

“If it’s a weekend, you’ll see him outside raking,” Horshor said. “We have kind of tried to stop him from shoveling snow.”

Though he is as healthy as a horse, Lind takes more naps than he used to, and sometimes falls asleep during meals, Horshor explained. He has a cataract in one of his eyes and his vision is failing. Because of his active lifestyle and his mental state, the eye doctor wants to wait until the colder months to remove the cataracts in hopes Carl can be convinced to stay indoors as he recovers.

Every month, Lind hauls his cans to Missoula to the recycling center. Nowadays he only gets 25 cents per pound of aluminum, which is half as much as he used to get.

His money is used to buy sweets, soda pop and popcorn, which he eats every night.

“He’s a great pop drinker,” Horshor said.

No one is quite sure why Lind started collecting cans but Horshor suspects it had something to do with the Folk Shop in the 1970s.

Then, Ronan had its own recycling center. When that closed, Lind made the trek to Polson. After Polson closed, Missoula was his next best option. 

And Horshor really hopes that Missoula’s recycling center doesn’t close, if not for environmental reasons, for Lind’s sake.

“He loves people and he loves to walk around town,” Horshor said. “The whole town is so good to him and they let him take his cans.”

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